Bharath Sankaran

Entrepreneur and Roboticist
on a mission to digitize construction

About

I am the CTO and Co-founder of Scaled Robotics. Scaled Robotics is a company on a mission to modernize 21st century construction with the help of Robotics and Artificial Intelligence. Construction, a process which addresses one of the most fundamental of human needs, namely shelter, is plagued by waste and inefficiency. At Scaled Robotics we are addressing these issues by developing new tools for this industry that will impact their processes from end to end.

Prior to founding Scaled Robotics, I spent more than a decade working as a robotics researcher at some of the world's leading robotics labs. My alma mater includes, the Computational Learning and Motor Control Laboratory, the Max Planck Institute's Autonomous Motion Department, the GRASP Laboratory and the Robotics Institute to name a few. During my academic research career I worked on a wide spectrum of autonomous systems including ground, aerial and humanoid robots. My primary research interests lie in Active and Interactive perception. This entails the study of solving problems related to perception through movement and interaction. I believe that such an approach to robot perception is fundamental for autonomous systems to build better models of their environment, hence more effectively close perception-action loops.

In pursuit of this research objective, I received a Ph.D in Computer Science from the University of Southern California under the supervision of Prof. Stefan Schaal.. I also have degrees in Aerospace Engineering, Computer Science, Robotics and Mechanical Engineering. You can read more about my professional journey here.

Research Interests

Here I have listed a few of my professional and academic projects in problems that I care about. I am interested in using Robotics to solve pressing real world problems while simultaneously attempting to understand how to build more intelligent and autonomous systems.

Interactive Perception

Active Perception

Shared Autonomy

Robust 3D Recognition

Visual Navigation

Construction Robotics

My Journey

I have had the opportunity to travel the world and train at various leading academic and corporate research units. I have provided a small window into professional and academic journey since my undergraduate years. These experiences have helped me mould my research philosophies and hone my technical skills

  • 2002-2006

    Anna University

    I spent a wonderful four years as an undergrad in the beautiful city of Chennai. I majored in Mechanical Engineering where I specialized in Robotics and Operations Research.

  • 2006-2008

    University of Maryland, College Park

    I received my first masters in Aerospace Engineering where I did research in Space Robotics and Interplanetary Guidance and Navigation. I also had the pleasure of working at Space Systems Laboratory under the supervision of Dr. David Akin.

  • 2009

    AIS Automation

    I travelled around the world implementing manufacturing automation solutions for Solar Cell Manufacturing. Our primary clients were in Taiwan, Korea and India.

  • 2010-2012

    University of Pennsylvania

    I received my second masters in Robotics where I did research on computer vision and active perception at the world reknowned GRASP Laboratory. I did my thesis title "Sequential Hypothesis Testing for Next Best View Estimation" was supervised by Prof. Kostas Daniilidis, who was also my primary advisor. I was also co-advised by Prof. Camillo J. Taylor. You can find a copy of my masters thesis here.

  • Summer 2010

    Robotics Institute, Carnegie Mellon University

    I worked on riverine mapping project under the advisement of Prof Sanjiv Singh. My primary research objective was to detect rivers in monocular color images to enable navigation for UAVs in GPS denied riverine environments. I also collaborated with Dr. Stephen Nuske and Dr. Sebastian Scherer.

    Relevant Publications: [ICRA 11]

  • Summer 2011

    Bosch Research and Technology Center

    I spent a summer at the Palo Alto labs working on failure recovery for autonomous mobile robots and humanoids using shared autonomy interfaces. I was hosted by Dr. Benjamin Pitzer and Dr. Sarah Osentoski.

    Relevant Publications: [IROS 12] [ IROS WS-11] .

  • 2012-2018

    University of Southern California

    I spent a wonderful 6 years in sunny Southern California working at the Computational Learning and Motor Control Laboratory under the supervision of Prof. Stefan Schaal. I also spent time as a visiting researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems. I also received a Masters in Computer Science focused on mathematical optimization. My doctoral research primarily focused on algorithms for active and interactive perception for 3D object recognition. You can read my dissertation here.

    Relevant Publications: [ICRA 13] [TRO 14]
    [RLDM 15] [TRO 17].

  • Summer 2014

    Mitsubishi Electric Research Labs

    I spent a summer with the Computer Vision Team in Boston working on Illumination Invariant Image Matching for Autonomous Driving Applications. My hosts were (Prof.) Dr. Srikumar Ramalingam and Dr. Yuichi Taguchi.

    Relevant Publications: [IROS 16] [US Patent 10.013.765]

  • Summer 2015

    Qualcomm Research

    I spent a wonderful summer in sunny San Diego with the computer vision team at Qualcomm Corporate Research. Here I worked on algorithms for loop closure detection for visual inertial navigation. My hosts were Dr. Chris Brunner and Dr. Harris Teague.

  • 2015 - Present

    Scaled Robotics

    What started as a casual chat after a game of pick-up soccer, ultimately ended up in a transformational collaboration. Stuart Maggs was introduced to me by my dear friend and soccer teammate James Askew In 2015, Stuart & I, co-founded Scaled Robotics with a mission to modernize 21st century construction. We have a very interesting set of products, projects and open positions. Check out our website for more details.

Passions

When I am not tinkering with robots or building mathematical models of movement for perception, I take my scientific musings to the real world through passions. Namely, Argentine Tango, Rock Climbing and Educational Outreach.

Argentine Tango

Rock Climbing

Outreach

I believe both Argentine Tango and Rock Climbing, apart from being extremely satisfying and relaxing are also problems that involve highly coupled perception-action loops. These problems also rely on low level model predictive control while executing a larger global plan. They also incorporate exploration to deal with environment uncertainty. With these observations from the dance floor and climbing gym, I want to understand how we can build robots capable exploiting motion to cope with uncertainty and build better models of their environment.

Another passion of mine is making science education accessible. When the opportunity presents itself I like talking to students on how to pursue interesting careers in Science and Technology. On a separate note, there is wide spread misinformation on the capabilities and limitations of technology. In my spare time, I like to engage non-technical audiences on what technology (especially Robotics & A.I) can and cannot do for them. I believe this outreach will help them see clearly through all the hype in mass media.



Recent Talks

FAB Biennale 2018

World Congress of Robotics 2018

DCW 2018

Contact Me

Drop me a line if you have any interesting projects you want to collaborate on.